4 minute read | April, 2024 | Lou Simeone | Simeone Graphix
Skateboarding is more than just a sport - it's a culture, a form of art, and a way of expression. Every aspect of skateboarding, from the decks to the tricks, is permeated with creativity. One of the prime opportunities for creativity in skateboarding is designing the skateboard deck itself. Creating a unique illustration is not only a way to personalize your skateboard, but also a chance to showcase your artistic talent. In this article, we will explore the process of crafting standout skateboard art.
two colorful skateboards on a park bench
colorful skateboard deck leaning against an Asian style fountain
Understanding The Skateboard Deck as a Canvas
Before diving into the creative process, it is essential to understand the canvas you will be working on – the skateboard deck. Skateboard decks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the standard dimensions are around 7.5 to 8.5 inches in width and 28 to 32 inches in length, which translates to approximately 19 to 21.5 centimeters in width and 71 to 81 centimeters in length.

Consider the shape and size of your deck when planning your artwork. The graphic should complement the deck's curvature and dimensions. Keep in mind that the graphic will be subject to wear and tear from skating, so durability is crucial. Quality materials and a clear protective coating will help ensure your artwork lasts.
skateboard deck with colorful fantasy design
skateboard deck with colorful cartoon artwork
Finding Your Style
Every skateboarder has a unique style, and the same goes for skateboard illustrations. Finding inspiration for your artwork can come from anywhere – graffiti art, comic books, nature, or best of all, your imagination. Take the time to explore different styles and techniques to discover what resonates with you.

Consider the message or mood you want your artwork to convey. Whether it’s bold and edgy, whimsical and playful, or intricate and detailed, your style should reflect your personality and vision.
Sketching Your Design
Once you have a clear idea of the style and inspiration you want for your skateboard design, the next step is to sketch it out. Start by creating a rough concept on paper. This initial sketch does not have to be perfect, it's just a way to put your ideas down on paper and start refining them.
Pay close attention to the composition and how your design will flow across the deck. Consider the design from different angles and how it will interact with the shape of the skateboard. Keep in mind the location of the holes for the trucks and wheels that may need to be accounted for in your design. You can ignore these elements if you plan to hang the deck without them.
pencil sketch of fun skateboard artwork
skateboard deck being created in Adobe Illustrator
Refining Your Concept
After you have a rough sketch, take the time to refine your concept. This is where you will add more detail and polish to your design. Consider elements such as line weight, shading, and color scheme to bring your illustration to life.
funny skateboard deck of a cartoon man picking his nose
Think about how the colors and details will appear against the natural wood grain of the skateboard deck. Alternatively, you may choose to have an opaque background that covers the wood grain. You can use contrasting colors to make your design stand out or opt for a more subtle, monochromatic palette for a minimalist look. In my artwork, I prefer to use vivid colors and bold lines.
Bringing Your Artwork to Life
Once you've honed in on your concept, it's time to move on to the most exciting part - creating your artwork and personalizing your board. There are various ways to approach this, all of which are equally fun, and will yield fantastic results.
1. Hand painting: You should start by prepping the board with a high-quality primer. Next, paint directly onto the deck using acrylic paint, spray paint, paint pens, or any other art medium of your choice. You can also experiment with the mixed media technique, which involves using different materials or mediums combined in a single artwork to create diverse textures and visual effects. This versatile approach allows for maximum creativity and is a lot of fun to experiment with. However, hand painting is best suited for boards meant to be displayed rather than ridden. If you plan on showcasing your board as a work of art, painting can be an excellent way to express your individuality and artistic talent.
2. Digital artwork: Numerous graphic design and illustration software are available for creating stunning artwork, including well-known options such as Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. This method offers precise control over your design and allows you to make revisions easily. Once your artwork is complete, you can upload it to a print-on-demand service that specializes in creating skateboard decks. They will then apply your artwork onto the board using Digital Heat Transfer. This production method is ideal for manufacturing single boards or small print runs with intricate and complex designs. Alternatively, you can export your artwork to a file format suitable for screen printing if you prefer that method. Screen printing is ideal for larger production runs. Both methods produce high-quality and durable results.
3. Decals or Stickers: If you prefer a more eclectic look, use an assortment of your favorite stickers to make a collage. This technique allows for endless customization and creativity, as you can mix and match stickers to achieve your desired aesthetic. You can cover the deck completely or leave some parts of it exposed. Don't forget, the grip tape goes on the top of the deck. Once you've applied the stickers, it's recommended to seal the underside of the board with a durable finish, such as an epoxy resin, to protect it from wear and tear while riding. Here, I'll insert a shameless plug and say that you can throw a few of my custom stickers into the mix while you're at it.
colorful skateboard artwork of Bigfoot smoking a joint
Finishing Touches
After applying the final artwork to the skateboard deck, you can add some finishing touches to give it a unique look. You may want to consider customizing the skateboard by using cool, graphic grip tape. Additionally, you can add your signature to make it a truly one-of-a-kind deck.
Creating an illustration for a skateboard is a thrilling blend of artistry and craftsmanship. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting, designing your skateboard graphic is a rewarding and creative endeavor. With the right inspiration, technique, and attention to detail, you can transform a simple skateboard deck into a unique piece of art that reflects your style and passion for skateboarding. So grab your brushes, markers, or digital tools and let your imagination run wild – the skatepark is waiting for your masterpiece.
Simeone Graphix logo
If you're into skateboarding and want to help out an independent artist, swing by my Etsy shop and check out my skateboard decks. Your support means a lot to me. Thanks!
Back to Top